While entrepreneurs have been eyeing traditional legal processes for some years now, with a cost-cutting gleam in their eye and the word ‘streamline‘ on their lips, this early phase of legal innovation pales in significance beside the transformative potential of AI technologies that are already pushing their algorithmic fingers into legal processes — and perhaps shifting the line of the law itself in the process. These are the sorts of questions that lawyer and philosopher Mireille Hildebrandt, a professor at the research group for Law, Science, Technology and Society at Vrije Universiteit Brussels in Belgium, will be engaging with during a five-year project to investigate the implications of what she terms ‘computational law’.

Last month the European Research Council awarded Hildebrandt a grant of €2.5 million to conduct foundational research with a dual technology focus: Artificial legal intelligence and legal applications of blockchain. Discussing her research plan with TechCrunch, she describes the project as both very abstract and very practical, with a staff that will include both lawyers and computer scientists.

She says her intention is to come up with a new legal hermeneutics — so, basically, a framework for lawyers to approach computational law architectures intelligently; to understand limitations and implications, and be able to ask the right questions to assess technologies that are increasingly being put to work assessing us. “The idea is that the lawyers get together with the computer scientists to understand what they’re up against,” she explains.

“I want to have that conversation… I want lawyers who are preferably analytically very sharp and philosophically interested to get together with the computer scientists and to really understand each other’s language. “We’re not going to develop a common language.

That’s not going to work, I’m convinced. But they must be able to understand what the meaning of a term is in the other discipline, and to learn to play around, and to say okay, to see the complexity in both fields, to shy away from trying to make it all very simple. Read more from techcrunch.com…

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